The length of time you should keep a document depends on the
action, expense, or event the document records. Generally, you must keep
your records that support an item of income or deductions on a tax
return until the period of limitations for that return runs out.
The period of limitations is the period of time in which you can
amend your tax return to claim a credit or refund, or that the IRS can
assess additional tax. The below information contains the periods of
limitations that apply to income tax returns. Unless otherwise stated,
the years refer to the period after the return was filed. Returns filed
before the due date are treated as filed on the due date.
Note: Keep copies of your filed tax returns. They help in preparing
future tax returns and making computations if you file an amended
You owe additional tax and situations (2), (3), and (4), below, do not apply to you; keep records for 3 years.
You do not report income that you should report, and it is more
than 25% of the gross income shown on your return; keep records for 6
You file a fraudulent return; keep records indefinitely.
You do not file a return; keep records indefinitely.
You file a claim for credit or refund* after you file your
return; keep records for 3 years from the date you filed your original
return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
You file a claim for a loss from worthless securities or bad debt deduction; keep records for 7 years.
Keep all employment tax records for at least 4 years after the date that the tax becomes due or is paid, whichever is later.
The following questions should be applied to each record as you decide whether to keep a document or throw it away.
Are the records connected to assets?
Keep records relating to property until the period of
limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the property in
a taxable disposition. You must keep these records to figure any
depreciation, amortization, or depletion deduction and to figure the
gain or loss when you sell or otherwise dispose of the property.
Generally, if you received property in a nontaxable exchange, your
basis in that property is the same as the bases of the property you
gave up, increased by any money you paid. You must keep the records on
the old property, as well as on the new property, until the period of
limitations expires for the year in which you dispose of the new
property in a taxable disposition.
What should I do with my records for nontax purposes?
When your records are no longer needed for tax purposes,
do not discard them until you check to see if you have to keep them
longer for other purposes. For example, your insurance company or
creditors may require you to keep them longer than the IRS does.